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The Almighty Buck Businesses

Piracy Economics 347

Posted by kdawson
from the lawsuits-make-a-poor-marketing-strategy dept.
Reader Anonymous Coward the younger sends in a link to an article up at Mises.org on the market functions of piracy. The argument is that turning a blind eye to piracy can be a cheap way for a company to give away samples — one of the most time-proven tactics in marketing. The article also suggests that pirates creating knock-offs might just be offering companies market feedback that they ought to attend to. (Microsoft, are you listening?)
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Piracy Economics

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  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:51PM (#19216979) Homepage Journal
    Or the marker of a market that changes very quickly. And I think that currently the OS market is both.

    Once a market is mature and stable, each major supplier within that market will have a product for all market segments. ( With cars, almost every manufacturer has a cheap sedan, a mid-size, an SUV, etc. Books come in limited signed editions, then the hardcover, then the quality size paperback, then the pocket paperback. )

    There are some markets that are inherently unstable - like fashion - in which illegal knock-offs will always be practical. But in most mature makets the legitimate sellers fill every niche so well that the marginal costs of piracy are not worth it.

    MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product. It would be practical for them to give away the low end version.


    PS: This even applies to labor markets. In that case we call the piracy 'slavery', and the low end versions 'volunteers'.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:58PM (#19217013) Journal
      "MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product. It would be practical for them to give away the low end version.
      "

      hmmmm I was under the impression that they *ALREADY* have a dozen versions of their product on the market, none of which are being given away... unless you want to run it for an education institute on cheap (OLPC type) hardware, for which you can pay a meager $3 or so.

      The practicality of giving away the low end version won't make sense to MS as they would still have to support updates, security patches etc. I doubt they want to be known around the world as the makers of the least secure OS on the market. While they may have that reputation now, it would be solidified if they were to give away products and not support them.... oh wait, sorry, that model seems to be working if you support the product.

      Now, just to figure out the steps to getting MS to do this...

      1. design OS
      2. support OS
      3. give it away for free
      4. pay lawmakers to make this legal (not sure about this step or how it might work)
      5. ????
      6. Profit !!!!
      • Sorry, I should have been more precise about the 'dozen versions' comment. Sure, the have several versions ( Itanium or not, 32 bit, 64 bit, etc ). These are what one might call 'horizontal' versions.
        I was thinking of 'vertcal' versions, in which each version is a superset of the lesser version. The more you pay, the more frills and features you get. Supporting the low-end versions would not be too difficult because most of the features would be 'off'.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by bigstrat2003 (1058574)
          They did start going in this direction with Vista, and no one (as far as I know) likes it. The layman thinks it's too confusing, the geek (well, the Slashdot user, which isn't a very fair cross-section of geeks) just mocks Microsoft. How is taking the idea further going to benefit them?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Daengbo (523424)
          Well, they did give away thousands of copies of Win98 to the Thai gov't in order to kill the FLOSS movement there. The Thai gov't was happy to sign a contract legitimizing all their pirated copies. Oh, yeah. Then MS EOLed Win98 about six month later and forced an upgrade to WinXP. Hmmm.
        • by madsenj37 (612413)
          Vista comes in 7 or so flavors of feature sets.
      • by simm1701 (835424) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:00AM (#19218433)
        Microsoft do give away some of their products.

        The developer studio and SQL server express editions. Slightly cut down, and I doubt that most people that would buy the full edition would opt for the express edition but its a perfect example the only realistic way to cut piracy, offer a free "good enough" alternative.

        In those times when I have to code something on windows (a situation I try to avoid) its now easier for me to get one of the express editions than it is to get a pirate copy. And I can use the express editions in the office.

        In this case its mainly self serving by microsoft, they want people using their developement environments, so they gain by offering a free version to those that would probably never buy a full version anyway. But did you really think any company is going to do something for purely altruistic reasons?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Smight (1099639)

      We prefer the term "undocumented workers" to slaves.

      Volunteers are the open source version of labor. If you decide to let some guy off the street extract your rupturing appendix, there's a slim chance they might actually be qualified to do that at their day job. Of course sometimes guys on the street will tell you they are "just as good as a doctor" but most of them are just trying to infect you with viruses.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcarp (409487)
      Except that you dont have to install an OS in yer car to get it running. You dont have to chose between windows/linux/bsd b4 you can drive it off the lot. The OS market was flawed from the beginning. MS could have seen fit to make tons of $$$$ off windows compat apps and given the OS away long ago after making it on the map with their buy off of qdos and subsequent bluff/save to ibm. Dont get me wrong, I dont mind ppl making money, thats how markets work, but lets face it. How many ppl would be irate i
    • by Khaed (544779) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:59AM (#19217393)
      MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product. It would be practical for them to give away the low end version.

      They have quite a few versions of Vista.

      MS will always be pirated. If they give away the low end, people will pirate the high end because that's what they want. Paint is given away for free with every Windows computer, Gimp is free, yet Photoshop is probably one of the most pirated programs in existence, after Windows and possibly Office.

      While the car and book analogies make sense, Microsoft isn't actually hurt by people pirating Windows. Windows has always been pirated and they're a billion dollar company. One of the reasons for this is that you can pirate all you want at home, but if you're a business caught pirating, you are going to get screwed. In an uncomfortable place. (and not like in a station wagon)

      Short of giving all versions of Windows away, MS will be pirated. They might as well make the best of it and work it to their advantage.
    • Yes an no. Piracy can really only apply to copyable objects. You can can steal a Civic but you can't "pirate" one. Intangible goods that can be pirated haven't been around as long as "tangible goods", like wheat and clay pots. You really can't pirate music until tapes, you really couldn't pirate movies until VHS, and software is somewhat of a recent invention itself.

      I would suggest that piracy is associated with newer markets, not because the markets are immature, but because the newest markets are easily commoditized. Sure there was piracy long ago with books (since the printing press), and music (with sheet music), but we've found more efficient distribution methods go hand in hand with piracy. I don't think the music market is immature, music is just easily distributed.
      • by init100 (915886) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:02AM (#19218155)

        Piracy can really only apply to copyable objects. You can can steal a Civic but you can't "pirate" one.

        You have obviously never heard of counterfeiting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by stephanruby (542433)
        "Yes an no. Piracy can really only apply to copyable objects. You can can steal a Civic but you can't "pirate" one."

        Actually, according to your definition, you can. You can copy the Honda Civic's design, style, trimmings, parts, etc. That's probably not the easiest thing to do, but ease is not only factor here. There used to be a time when one could easily get executed for trying to translate the bible, or even trying to copy the bible. That used to be a sacrilege, and an act of an heretic, but we soon g
  • As I recall... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:53PM (#19216985) Homepage Journal
    ...wasn't there some sort of memo that was leaked from Microsoft that basically said the only reason why Windows 3.1 became popular was because it was the most pirated software ever?

    As it so happens, I used to sell a product which required a simple registration key to upgrade to the full version. (The free version never shut off, but it had fewer features.) After noticing a few Google searches for " crackz", I thought about seeding a few reg numbers to promote the product. Alas, I never got around to it, but it would have been a cool marketing trick.

    That being said, I don't agree with piracy in general. Only that it can fullfill certain market needs. If it gets too out of hand, though, it can become a serious problem to the producer. (e.g. Napster) Of course, you don't get in that position unless you're failing to meet your customer's needs in the first place. (e.g. lack of legal MP3s)
    • Re:As I recall... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jambarama (784670) <jambaramaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:38AM (#19217619) Homepage Journal
      One particularly significant benefit (to the companies being ripped-off) to piracy is lock-in. As you said, Microsoft might not be where it is now, if it were not for piracy. I think the same goes for programs like Photoshop. Teenagers won't/can't pay $600 for Photoshop. Adobe doesn't lose anything by teen pirates who can't afford Photoshop--but they do gain another crop of kids proficient with their software. If any of these kids use Photoshop professionally, they buy a real license.

      I think this is the biggest stumbling block to free software. No one wants to use the GIMP because they can get Photoshop. If fewer could get Photoshop, fewer professionals would have Photoshop experience, and more would be willing to contribute to GIMP. Why use Ubuntu when you can get Windows?

      But you are right, if any program can be pirated without any repercussions, it WILL hurt both the company and the product's future. It is too costly to stamp out ALL piracy--costly to the produce, the enforcer, and the legitimate customers who will get some spill over--so determining the right amount is tantamount to success.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cliffski (65094)
        "If any of these kids use Photoshop professionally, they buy a real license"

        I'd like to think that's true, but a very large number of people who make very good money using software like this (or 3D Studio MAX) never buy a legit copy, even when they can afford to.
        • Re:As I recall... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Tuoqui (1091447) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:06AM (#19218737) Journal
          Thats because the software simply isnt worth $600+. It is more than the market is willing to bear under normal circumstances.

          Do you think Photoshop would be one of the most pirated software in existence if they sold it for $60-80 instead of $600? Probably not, and they'd likely make more than 10x the $$$ off of sales than they do now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vicissidude (878310)
      That doesn't make any sense. Apple, Commodore, and Amiga software were highly pirated as well. Piracy certainly didn't help them. Apple limped through the '90s. Commodore and Amiga both died.

      No, Microsoft became dominant because they were the operating system for the IBM PC, the computer used by business. Businesses back then were the same as today in that they tend to not pirate software. Microsoft became dominant because they were pirated less than the rest.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by richie2000 (159732)

        That doesn't make any sense. Apple, Commodore, and Amiga software were highly pirated as well. Piracy certainly didn't help them. Apple limped through the '90s. Commodore and Amiga both died.

        You can't make that comparison as both Apple and Commodore's OS only worked on their own hardware. So, there was no point in pirating AmigaOS since it already came with the machine. Ergo, it was not "highly pirated" at all.

        If you are going to compare with other platforms, you can compare Deluxe Paint. This was probably the most pirated software program on the Amiga - everyone and his uncle had a copy. Still, sales from this program helped propel a small-time software company named Electronic Arts to great

  • The MPAA/RIAA/MPA is well aware of this effect, which is why you aren't seeing them taking EVERYTHING down. But they fear - and probably correctly - that if piracy gets TOO popular it will destroy their businesses. Therefore they've been working hard to keep things limited. Good luck to them; they're gonna need it. ;-)
  • One bit of feedback that MS gets is that many people find the standard sticker price far too high.
  • One bit of feedback that MS gets is that many people find the standard sticker price far too high.
    that's part of why people light like Linux- cant get better than free. The reason piracy happens however, doesnt seem to have anything to do with a reasonable price- it has more to do with getting whatever it is easier not cheaper. if people had the money not to care about price and it was easier to do so they would do it that way.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Pirate Economics 101:

    1. Plundering
    2. Wenching
    3. Yarr!
  • I saw this story first on Engadget [engadget.com]:

    'Does our collective ear deceive us? If pirates are to plunder, Microsoft now wants them to board the Windows ship first. The news came about at last week's Morgan Stanley Technology conference where MS business group prez Jeff Raikes stated, 'If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else. We understand that in the long run the fundamental asset is the installed base of people who are using our products.' '
    So yes, Microsoft understands that there really is only one difference between FOSS-based IT vendors and Microsoft: CONTROL. You can fork FOSS, but you can't fork Microsoft products. And in the end, it is that single fact that is going to tip the economics in favor of the FOSS community. Microsoft has long given away software that is free-as-in-beer, and that did not earn them our love. We want control. Transparency. Forkability. The right to share. The right to improve. Microsoft gives us no love in these areas.

    Microsoft just won't be able to compete against a developer and testing community as large as the FOSS community. We are everywhere. And I dare say we are having more fun than the Microsofties.
  • by Jozef Nagy (1082101) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:22AM (#19217161) Homepage
    I've been a member of the Mises Institute for years. It's good to see Slashdot picking up on their articles.

    The author's assertion was that the innovator produces the initial, high quality product. Then the pirates produce low quality knock-offs to fulfill a market segment the initial innovator isn't fulfilling. In the case of the record industry, I'm afraid they're well past the point of innovation and the production of high quality products (at least as far as pop music is concerned). In that case they're selling a low end version of their music, but still deluding themselves into thinking it's a quality product.

    Either the quality has to go up or the price has to come down.
    • by gordo3000 (785698)
      in other words, the author is an idiot when it comes to piracy outside of the 80's right?

      when, in the last 5 years, have you not had access to high quality pirated versions? Outside of movies, the pirated versions are perfect replicas of the paid for product. and most of the times for movies, the pirated versions are perfect DVD rips.

      now, the argument had real meaning 20 years ago but with the advent of the internet and now prolific broadband, it's moot. it can only become meaningful again if a real differ
  • "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software," he said. "Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

    Bill Gates, Microsoft as quoted on CNET in 1998 [linuxjournal.com]

    i'm your mamma, i'm your daddy
    i'm that nerd in the alley
    i'm your doctor, when in need
    want some word, have some IE
    you know me, i'm your friend

  • I mean pirates do those things right? And I don't think they hand of free samples; unless those are samples of whoop-ass. Oh, we are talking about software pirates..... nevermind.
  • Distributing Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nacturation (646836) <nacturation@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @12:42AM (#19217285) Journal

    The article also suggests that pirates creating knock-offs might just be offering companies market feedback that they ought to attend to. (Microsoft, are you listening?)
    So companies who distribute Linux in violation of the terms of the GPL are offering Linux developers valuable market feedback that they ought to attend to? (Linus, are you listening?)
     
    • by bersl2 (689221)
      What, that the terms of the GPL are too burdensome to follow for companies looking to turn absolute maximum profit?

      Boo-fucking-hoo. The GPL makes you give up some short-term assets for long-term viability (for everyone, including whatever particular company itself). If you don't want to make that decision, use somebody else's software.
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:53AM (#19217687) Homepage Journal
      It worked for DirectX support in WINE.

      Was a time when WINE was distributed under a BSD-like license. A few developers decided they didn't like Open Source anymore, so they split off and formed this company, Transgaming, taking the code base with them and slapped a slightly more restrictive license on it (restrictive enough that you couldn't call it Open Source anymore).

      Their idea was that people pay a subscription which gives them voting rights. Whatever they voted on, the developers would work on. The big thing the users wanted was DirectX support for popular games. So that's what they worked on. Then the problem was copy protection systems.. so they started bundling some proprietary components with the software which made the copy protection work under Linux.

      Meanwhile, over in the WINE camp, they decided to switch their license to GPL because the Transgaming people (and the cross-over Office people) weren't giving their changes back. In fact, the next time someone asks you why the GPL is more popular than the BSD license, tell them about WINE. Anyway, all that work that Transgaming and the others did really inspired a lot of people to join the WINE project. It provided proof that WINE could do what people had been saying for years that it could do.

      As yet, WINE is still not at the 1.0 stage.. It's still not easy for users to get an obscure "vertical market" piece of software working under WINE.

      I know this isn't exactly what you were thinking.. but it does show that the ability to take Open Source in directions that the original authors are reluctant or otherwise slow to go really is a great strength.
      • by clifyt (11768)
        Oh noes! You put a product out for free and someone figures out how to make a business plan arounds it!1!

        So when someone talks about BSD being a more mature license because it doesn't restrict what the original authors had expected, i.e., do whatever you want with it but give us credit, I could point them to the old WINE?

        "Anyway, all that work that Transgaming and the others did really inspired a lot of people to join the WINE project. It provided proof that WINE could do what people had been saying for ye
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          My point was that BSD causes fragmentation at the expense of the original effort.

          But I think you knew that.
  • The problem with software piracy isn't that it's wrong or that it's supposed to take revenues from companies. It's that companies don't want to embarrass themselves admitting that they LIKE being pirated.

    It's being two-faced. And Microsoft's been doing it for years. (How else could they get a market so big?)
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:38AM (#19217617) Journal
    These are the "Educational Editions" of Office, XP and now Vista. You are supposed to show a valid student Id when you make the purchase, but shops are hectic, busy places and luckily most households have a couple of students lying around anyway. Conveniently some of these allow the software to be installed on multiple machines. So when Joe frowns that some Microsoft software is too expensive, he has a way around it. Microsoft get their money. Not as much as they would have liked, but they get it anyway.

    Microsoft _have_ to know this goes on: If they wanted to they could make their educational program so draconian no one would use it, but households shrugging and installing Ubuntu on their machine is Microsoft's worst nightmare.
  • I always wondered why all of the 30-day software demos from Macromedia could be actually registered and made permanent; not only that, but they could be registered using an enterprise key which did not even phone home. AND the enterprise key could be located with a simple Google search which did not even require you to click through the results page to retrieve the key. The only conclusion I could draw (possibly wrong, I'll freely admit) was that Macromedia wanted people to do this so they could use the pro
  • by Atreide (16473) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @01:54AM (#19217697)
    I remember the time of Windows 95.

    When you installed that operating system
                there was no activation.

    There was also no
                serial number verification
                            since you could just enter
                                        an empty number and the system would install.

    That was still not corrected with Windows 98.

    When it is so easy to install
                an operating system,
                            it helps to get of market shares.
  • by niceone (992278) * on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @02:27AM (#19217803) Journal

    Thing that worries me about piracy is that people get used to it. Maybe MS can get market share through piracy. Maybe the RIAA can get viral marketing through piracy...

    ...but I know a guy who makes a living by creating drum and other sounds that people use to make electronic music. It's not a big operation, just him and one other guy. When you order a DVD he burns one by hand and mails it to you. Anyway, someone just uploaded ALL their products to Bittorrent, and he can see all these people posting about how cool they are and how they can't wait to download them. Needless to say he's pretty despondent.

    And before people start with the 'information wants to be free' and 'find a new business model' - why should he? This is what he's good at, people want his stuff, why shouldn't they pay him for it? I mean, I have written free software... while earning a fat salary working on other stuff at a hitech corp. It's not so easy in other areas though.

    </RANT>
    • by EzInKy (115248)

      And before people start with the 'information wants to be free' and 'find a new business model' - why should he?


      It's not that "information wants to be free" so much as it's just natural for people to share knowledge and culture. If your friends stuff is good and people really do want it they will pay him to produce more if he gives them a way to do so.
      • by niceone (992278) *

        t's not that "information wants to be free" so much as it's just natural for people to share knowledge and culture. If your friends stuff is good and people really do want it they will pay him to produce more if he gives them a way to do so.

        I'm not so sure, people have a way do pay him for the stuff already - we're not talking big bucks either - and there are plenty of demos on his site if people just want to spread the news! I would have thought that the people using his stuff would realise what a sma

        • by EzInKy (115248)

          I'm not so sure, people have a way do pay him for the stuff already - we're not talking big bucks either - and there are plenty of demos on his site if people just want to spread the news!


          You're still thinking inside the copyright box model which, as your friend has learned, just isn't going to work well anymore. People are going to share no matter how many strict laws are put into place, it is just natural thing for them to do. It is, after all, how knowledge and culture have been passed along since the da
          • by niceone (992278) *

            You're still thinking inside the copyright box model which, as your friend has learned, just isn't going to work well anymore.

            I have thought about this quite a lot. And I've hung about here enough to see all the arguments. I can see how free software writers can make a living selling books or consulting, or musicians could make money on live shows and merchandising (although that's another long discussion!). But this guy is a sound designer, that's what he does well. If he can't sell his sounds - just b

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by EzInKy (115248)

              Even if he could think up some business model where he did something tangential and gave away the sounds, isn't that a waste? Shouldn't he be spending his time doing what he's best at? Shouldn't people be paying for the bit of what he does that they want (the sounds!)? It just seems so inefficient.


              I never said he shouldn't be paid for making sounds. I get paid for the work I do, he should get paid too if his services are valuable. The problem he is having is getting paid over and over again for work that he
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Singletoned (619322)

      ..but I know a guy who makes a living by creating drum and other sounds that people use to make electronic music. It's not a big operation, just him and one other guy. When you order a DVD he burns one by hand and mails it to you. Anyway, someone just uploaded ALL their products to Bittorrent, and he can see all these people posting about how cool they are and how they can't wait to download them. Needless to say he's pretty despondent. And before people start with the 'information wants to be free' and 'find a new business model' - why should he? This is what he's good at, people want his stuff, why shouldn't they pay him for it?

      People think his work is cool and can't wait to get hold of it, and he's despondent?

      Okay, people are downloading his stuff illegally, but would any of them have paid for it (or even have heard of it) otherwise?

      And remember they can't use the sounds on music they sell, if they do, he can charge them ten times as much for his work.

      As always, when you are being pirated, you need to change your business model. He should give all his stuff away for free for 'personal use' and make his profits from redis

  • The obvious flaw (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erik_norgaard (692400) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @02:52AM (#19217883) Homepage
    is that giving away samples with limited lifetime will introduce your product while maintain the potential customer because the trial product will eventually have to be replaced. But digital copies do not have such limited lifetime. And since any number of copies can be made, you loose not only the client that got a trial copy, but potentially the entire customer base. And those who offer complete trial versions soon find them to be cracked.

    The solution seems to be to offer limited versions that will show the client how great the product is, and how much greater it would be if they buy the official release. Say music in 96kbps mp3, it's ok on your iPod in the subway, but put it on your stereo and it sounds awful. Or the word processor with reduced dictionary, limited fonts and doesn't support large fonts - say above 18pt, or doesn't contain the print facility.

    Crackers won't add missing data to a trial version of a song, and they won't add missing functionalities to a program.
  • They once claimed infringement as part of their market share figures. They were paying attention. If anyone would notice, it was only after OS/2 was finally and completely gone did they start cracking down on infringement and clamping down their OS products. I don't think it's a coincidence.
  • Microsoft has been playing this game since its inception, back when everyone else was introducing copy protection (in the 80's), MS didn't because they were well aware of the positive marketing impact of piracy.

    This is a strategy that works well in growing markets.

    The problem is that now that they have a 95+ lock on many markets and a truly stupdendously large revenue stream from them. The only way to grow revenue in those markets is by increasing the proportion of legal copies.

    That this runs counter to the
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:45AM (#19218085)
    Okay, so we're about to see the launch of the third Pirates Of The Caribbean movie but let's have less of this "all pirates are likeable Robin Hood-type rogues" nonsense, can we?

    I am absolutely sick and tired of hearing people justify their *ILLEGAL* copying activities which achieve *ABSOLUTELY NOTHING* for me as an honest consumer of music and movies.

    For starters, the movie and music companies are nasty and greedy multi-national conglomerates who would like nothing more than to force every consumer into a rental model for their media so that they have a nice, regular revenue stream for basically doing nothing. All that piracy does here is to give those same companies the justification they need to do what they were going to do anyway - it just makes it easier for them to do it because piracy turns it into a political agenda meaning that governments can get involved in pushing DRM and the like through.

    Secondly, there is the issue of the poor quality of movies and music in general today. Far too much of the populace believes the hype and marketing lies surrounding the release of new albums and movies which invariably leads to them being duped and paying out good money for rubbish. Consequently, people are wary of paying money for CDs, DVDs and cinema tickets so they justify piracy as a defence against not being ripped off. This, of course, leads the media companies to churn out the same rubbish but with tighter restrictions for all users, whether they are honest or not.

    The idea that CDs and DVDs are overpriced is utter drivel, quite frankly. If you spend time looking for good music and movies at good prices, you become a discerning consumer who rapidly becomes pretty satisified with the quality of the albums and films that you buy. If an album has just one or two good songs on it then you don't buy it, it's that simple - and you never buy a CD or DVD until you are sure that it is worth the money.

    Unfortunately, too many consumers have become far too liberal with their "disposable income". They're constantly buying new stuff, maybe to impress peers, without thinking about it, they end up getting ripped off and to ofset their anger at being ripped off, they go off again and treat themselves to more overhyped rubbish...

    The solution is simple - if it's not worth the money, don't buy it. If it has DRM on it, don't buy it.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:16AM (#19218201)
    There are a few companies that don't get pirated: The ones with good support. There are actually a few content product (read: software) that rarely if ever get pirated because what people seek in it is the support and the updates. And I'm not talking about the usual bananaware, but rather software that ships finished but gets more goodies as it matures. This may even cost a monthly fee, and still people come back and will pay, especially companies gladly do.

    This is harder for music or movies, granted. But given that the "pirates" are usually relying on the 'net, here's an idea. It's even free this time: Give the legal customer additional value through the 'net.

    What would come to mind is that with every CD you hand out login info for your site, where the legal user can download wallpapers, autographs or other knickknack from his star. Maybe give meet&greet sessions every few months, but of course only to those that legally bought the CD.

    The cost for such additional value is minimal. What's the price of some hypestar, hmm? But the true fans of him will first of all love you for it, and (and that's maybe more interesting for you), they will buy his stuff to get access to the page, just to be "close" to their star.

    You bet this would curb piracy.
  • Oracle (Score:2, Informative)

    by ntufar (712060)
    Oracle has been actively embracing this kind of viral marketing for a long time. They send you free developer's CDs, offer downloads of fully functional latest database and application server products without any restrictions. This is probably a major reason why they are so popular among developers. Their strategy works like this:

    1. Offer database and development tools to developers free of charge
    2. Wait until applications built by these developers get into production
    3. Call and remind that database and dev

Programmers do it bit by bit.

Working...